updated 04:10 pm EDT, Thu August 4, 2011
Google says Microsoft offer on Nortel bid a trap
Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond updated his criticism of the Nortel and Novell patent bid to rebuff Microsoft's claims that it had thrown out a chance at patents by turning down an invitation to the Novell bid. He accused Microsoft of diversionary tactics and said that the offer to join on Novell was an effective trap. If Google had joined the group, it couldn't use those patents to defend itself or others from anti-Android lawsuits, the very goal Microsoft wanted to achieve by bidding in the first place.
"A joint acquisition of the Novell patents that gave all parties a license would have eliminated any protection these patents could offer to Android against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners," Drummond wrote. "Making sure that we would be unable to assert these patents to defend Android — and having us pay for the privilege — must have seemed like an ingenious strategy to them. We didn't fall for it."
The Google executive pointed to Department of Justice actions on the Novell case as hope for what would follow for Nortel. In that case, the Department of Justice forced a transfer of ownership that guaranteed open-source licensing. The DOJ's emphasis on protecting competition for open-source code like Linux supported concerns that rivals were using patents to stifle Android, Drummond said.
Microsoft's General Counsel Brad Smith and corporate communications leader Frank Shaw, who challenged Google's view of events, had yet to respond.